The SolarCity project that will be built on the Riverbend site in South Buffalo will break ground today
BUFFALO, N.Y. - WGRZ (September 23, 2014) - The SolarCity project that will be built on the Riverbend site in South Buffalo will break ground today, a source tells 2 On Your Side.
SolarCity, a solar panel provider led by billionaire Elon Musk, become involved in the Riverbend project after purchasing solar panel manufacturer Silevo in June. The company announced that it planned to turn that Buffalo site into one of the largest solar panel production plants in the world.
Musk is the founder and CEO of Space X, the chief executive of Tesla, and co-founder of Pay-Pal.
New York State has pledged to spend more than $225 million to build the Riverbend site. The funding will come from the Billion to Buffalo program.
SolarCity executives have promised their planned facility will create thousands of jobs, which is more than the 475 jobs Silevo promised when Riverbend was first announced. SolarCity executives also said the plant could be five-times the size of the original plans Silevo agreed to with the state. Silevo was the company originally involved with the Riverbend project when plans were announced last fall.
The exact terms of the agreement between SolarCity and New York and whether or not the state offered additional incentives to the company to keep their project from going elsewhere are unknown.
Right now at the site, construction teams are busy clearing it and already have offices and heavy equipment in place. A sign is posted at the parking lot entrance showing what the innovation hub will look like once complete. There is also what appears to be a hospitality tent set up and ready to go for the groundbreaking.
2-On-Your-Side spoke with Governor Andrew Cuomo about the deal, and its price tag, in July when the governor indicated there could be other states trying to get Solar City's business.
"We want to grow businesses. We want them located here, but of course we're talking about taxpayers dollars and that's precious, so we want to make the best deal we can. We want them here, but we don't want to pay more than we have to pay, so that's where we are now," said Cuomo.
The governor will be in Buffalo Tuesday afternoon, and a source says he will be in town for the groundbreaking. Cuomo was here for the original Riverbend announcement last November.
SolarCity currently has six-thousand employees. The company's website does not have any job openings listed for Buffalo.